Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Exclusive Q & A with Visionquest's Ryan Crosson

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In anticipation of Visionquest’s New York debut at the Verboten party this Sunday, we caught up with the quartet’s Berlin-based member Ryan Crosson to get the scoop on why these guys are all the hype this year. We also interviewed Lee Curtiss, but our transcript had a tragic accident. Lesson of the day? Don’t forget to go home AND don’t forget to save your shit…(sorry Lee, it was fun chatting with you though). More event details here.

Remember the first time you heard of Visionquest? Rewind back to 2009 when their remix of Kiki’s Good Voodoo dropped on Bpitch – that was one epic anthem. Yet, even after dropping a bomb like that the Visionquest crew crouched quietly under the radar, waiting for the right time to step onto the worldwide stage as a solid production team. Now with the successful launch of their label, Visionquest Records, and two top-charted releases under their belt, you could say things are off to a good start this year. In this interview we chatted with Crosson about bringing back album art, the meaning of pop music and Seth’s fiance’s Dad. You follow?

Bianca M: Finally, after five years in the works, Visionquest Records is finally a reality. Congratulations.

Ryan Crosson: It’s fantastic. Actually it’s been a bit difficult because there are four of us so we have four different opinions. Juggling that was a bit tough at first but now we’ve got our system set up.

BM: What took you guys so long?

RC: We’ve been working towards this for awhile, like getting everything in place and making sure it was the right time to do the label and not jump the gun and also not present the world or the underground dance music community with just something else that’s being done both musically and aesthetically like with the sleeves and the artwork. We didn’t see a point to do some loopy house label or some Detroit techno label that sounds like something from ten years ago or beyond. That’s been done, why reiterate that? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just for us to do.

BM: Tell me more about the artwork aspect of the vinyl releases you guys are doing. That sounds interesting.

RC: Right now we have just one artist doing the artwork. He’s Seth’s fiancé’s Dad. He used to do inserts for some of the old Motown records that were released in Japan. You know how the old records would get certain distributors for South America and Asia and all that? So they would put different inserts in, like Stevie Wonder records or Ray Charles records. He used to do that. He’s older now but he’s still doing it. I don’t know if we’re going to change artists like every five releases – I hope not because I really like the insert on the first one. It’s super original and not what I was expecting at all.

BM: What brought about this idea?

RC: Well, a lot of people aren’t buying records these days. They grew up thinking ‘oh of course you go on Beatport and get the mp3 file,’ rather than go in the record store. So maybe if we could offer something extra it could bring back that [culture] in some way or make it more collectable for people in general, even if they are not DJs.

BM: So how would you describe the musical style you guys are going for? Is there any one sound?

RC: It’s even tough for me to describe it in a way. A lot of this stuff is going to have a pop sensibility to it but not in a Britney Spears sort of way or a Talking Heads sort of way. Like the VQ03 – Tale of Us is a deep house record [and] VQ05 is going to be extremely deep and has a lot of jazz elements and old experimental music. Some of the stuff is going to have a pop sensibility. It all works together. It all has this smokiness to it, it all has a slight psychedelic element and it just works. So I’m still finding it hard to find the best way to describe it all too people.

BM: Well what do you mean by “pop”? Here in New York that word is coming up a lot more among producers.

RC: I would describe it as something with a bit more of a mass appeal, something a bit more musical. Maybe something with more of an actual song structure as opposed to a loop being played.

BM: That works. I also am curious as to why you guys decided to launch a label in the midst of a tough industry, economically speaking. I mean, labels these days isn’t aren’t financially fruitful as they were say, ten years ago.

RC: It’s tough at the beginning because there are a lot of start-up costs. There are no guarantees that everything will work out and there’s no guarantee we’re going to get anything [money] but we’re all willing to take that loss, whatever loss it may be in order to do this label. It’s something that we want to do. It’s worth it. I mean if I were to put money into something else, like if I were a smoker or spending it on cigarettes or whatever the hell you are going to spend it on, I much rather spend money on this label and never see that money back as opposed to not doing it at all.

BM: Cool. That being said, where would you, personally like to see this label going?

RC: I would like to see it grow to a point where we are able to touch a bunch of different genres and not just stick to dance music. The second half of [this] year is not even going to touch dance music, it’s going to be a totally different style of music. I guess we want to be able to do dance records but also do some stuff like rough trade. I think it’s really important to push yourself and not just stick with a certain kind of music all the time. You’d probably be bored on your own just doing the same thing. A lot of people have this formula, it’s the way they go about making a track. That’s cool but how many times do you want to do the same track so it’s a bit more fun if you can just go explore things and the things that you try and do, maybe it sucks – so what? Try something else. If you’ve got the time do it.

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